The next morning, I almost oversleep, something I rarely do. Somehow, I’ve managed to turn off the alarm clock without realizing it, and it’s only thanks to Brutus nuzzling my face that I wake up with just enough time to shower before heading out. Edward, who’s equally groggy and slightly disoriented by the sudden waking and shock of running late, promises to make breakfast and coffee and drop it by the store after locking up my apartment for me, leaving me free to hurry out the door.

I make it to the shop with only two minutes to spare, so I have to rush through my usual opening routine. It unsettles me, as it always does the few times this has happened in the past, but I try to deal with it as best I can. At least I can look forward to a break as soon as Edward shows up, which he does about an hour after I’ve opened. He smiles, nodding at the customer who’s paying for a couple of frames. As soon as she leaves, I sink back on the stool behind the counter, groaning. Edward glances around the store, then places the bag he brought with him on the counter before stepping around it to hug me.

“Hey,” I murmur, squeezing him tight. “Thanks for bringing that.” Edward smiles, kissing my forehead. “You’re welcome. I figured you could use it, considering how the day started. Still not entirely sure how we both missed the alarm.” I shrug, rubbing my eyes with thumb and index finger as I sigh. “I have no idea, but I’m grateful Brutus woke me up in time. Though I’ll admit, it was a first, to be woken up like that.” Edward chuckles. “Hmm, I can imagine. Not the most pleasant wake up call, no. Anyway, let’s eat, then maybe I can give you a hand in here if you want. I’ve got time today.”

I’m sure I look as pathetically grateful as I feel, for Edward laughs softly as he opens up the bag and starts taking out the food. Normally, I rarely have anyone help me in the store, but today I welcome it. I don’t even really know why I’m as tired as I am, other than last night running very late, that is. Of course, the fact that it’s Edward helping me out doesn’t hurt one bit. After we’ve eaten the ham and egg sandwiches he made for us, and we’ve each had a second cup of coffee, he puts the dirty dishes in the bag and places it under the counter as he asks with a grin, “Okay, boss. What can I do?”

I chuckle, shaking my head. “Boss?” Edward’s grin widens. “For right now, yes. Seriously, though. What can I do to help out?” I take a minute to think this over, then ask hesitantly, “Would you mind dusting the frames?” “Not at all,” he says with a genuine smile, so I hand him the dust rag and watch as he sets to work. After a minute, I shake my head again, mostly in an attempt to kickstart myself into action. I turn on the radio and smile when I notice Edward start to sway a little to the music while he works.

While he’s dusting, I step into the back to work on an order. I’m just putting the back piece in place again when Edward knocks on the doorframe. “Babe? There’s someone asking for a custom order?” I glance up, startled at the fact that I missed hearing the doorbell. Edward smiles. “Don’t worry, she’s the only one who’s come in while you were back here.” Sighing in relief, I nod. “Thanks, sweetheart. I can’t believe I didn’t hear it. Seems to be the theme of the day for me, huh?” Edward gives a half-shrug and says, “Eh, we all have off days. Don’t worry about it.”

I follow him back out to the front of the shop and smile when I see old Mrs. Greer, a favorite customer of mine who’s been coming to my store since it opened. “Mrs. Greer! I’m so sorry I didn’t hear you come in. Edward said you were asking about a custom order? What did you have in mind this time?” She glances over to Edward, who’s gone back to dusting frames, then turns to me with a smile as she says, “Edward? I didn’t realize you’d hired someone to help you out. He seems like a nice young fellow. Anyway, yes. My niece is getting married, so I wanted to get her something nice.”

We talk about what she would like, when she’ll need it by, as well as a few other details before winding down to general talk. Since she’s been a customer for so long, and she’s had me do so many pieces for her family, I’ve gotten to know her fairly well. When she asks again about Edward, I can’t keep from smiling – or blushing – as I tell her he isn’t my employee, but my boyfriend, and that he’s just helping me for the day. Mrs. Greer’s eyes widen and she peeks over at Edward again who’s either not within earshot, or pretending he can’t hear us as he continues working. When she looks back at me, her face is kind, her smile genuine as she says, “He seems a fine young fellow, indeed. Not often a young man like him shows such work ethic. Says a lot about his character, you know. You mark my words, young man,” she adds with a wag of her finger at me, “best keep him around. Not many like that left, these days. Not many at all.”

After Mrs. Greer’s gone, Edward walks up to me with an amused grin. “She seems like a nice lady.” I nod. “She’s a sweetheart, yes. Been coming here pretty much since I opened the doors to this place,” I say, smiling. Edward smiles, then asks how I want him to do the frames that are hanging on the walls. After showing him where the step stool is, he sets back to work. Since I missed hearing the chime earlier, I figure it’s better if I stay up front, so I grab one of the smaller projects to work on and bring it to the counter. We work for a couple of hours like this, with only a few interruptions from customers.

Around lunchtime, Edward asks what I want to eat. I blink, nonplussed. I hadn’t even thought of lunch. Running a hand through my hair, I slowly let the air out of my lungs as I ponder. “Umm, there’s a good sandwich place a few doors down. Or we can go to the pizzeria, if I call in the order. Up to you.” “Pizza sounds good,” he says with a grin, and I can’t help laughing as I remember the time I ordered pizza for Emmett and Edward. Edward rolls his eyes, muttering, “Fucking Emmett.”

After I call in the order – meat lovers, of course – we wrap up what we were doing before going to get something to eat. Since I only close the shop for a half hour, we need to be quick. Luckily, our pizza is ready and there’s a table waiting for us – one of the good things about being known, I guess. It’s nice to sit down with Edward, to have him working with me even if it is only for today. We talk about the store as we eat, and as we head back to work, Edward asks what other chore he can do.

The afternoon passes quickly as we set into an easy rhythm of cleaning around the shop. It’s a quiet day, as far as customers go, but there are a few. I’m lucky that I can always rely on certain times of the year to make up for times like today, so I’m not too worried and I’m able to enjoy spending the time with Edward. It’s somehow much more pleasant to get the menial things done with him here, than it normally is.

About an hour before closing, Edward’s cell rings and he frowns as he answers it. “Rose? Everything okay?” I pause what I’m doing to look up at him, instantly alert as I take in the way he straightens up, his shoulders tensing as he says, “Okay. Just stay calm, sweetheart. Keep breathing. How far apart-” He pauses, then nods. “Okay. Don’t worry about it. I’m on my way, unless you want me to call an ambulance instead?” His eyes meet mine as he listens. “Alright. Just try to stay calm, okay? I’ll be right there.”

Edward ends the call and takes a deep, wavering breath as he runs his fingers through his hair. “What’s going on, Edward?” I ask, getting up to stand in front of him. Edward frowns. “Rose went into labor early. Emmett’s at work and won’t be able to get home in time, and Vera’s… well, I’m not sure, but she couldn’t get in touch with her, either. Since I’m the back up, she called me. I have to go, babe.”

I nod, wrapping my arms around him to hug him briefly. “If you want, I’ll go with you. Just let me close up shop and write a note.” Edward’s eyes widen as they search mine. “You’d do that?” he asks quietly. I smile. “Of course. I know I haven’t met her yet, but she’s family, right? Okay, let’s do this quickly.” While I take care of the till, and write a quick note to explain the early closure, Edward calls a cab, clears away everything and within minutes we’re done and headed out the door.

By the time we’ve reached Emmett and Rose’s house a few blocks away, Edward is visibly trying to stay calm. Neither of us has been in this situation before, but he knows his cousin’s wife, and I know he’s worried about her and the babies. “Rose!” he yells as he walks inside. “Where are you?” A loud moan directs us to the bedroom and as we step inside it, I’m very glad that they live in a single level home. Rose’s snarls, “What took you so long?” then immediately moans again, her face contorting in pain.

Edward swallows, then says, “How far apart?” Rose clamps her eyes shut, then mutters between clenched teeth, “I don’t know… they’re getting worse, though. They aren’t supposed to come yet, Ed,” she adds in a whimper, her eyes popping open and frantically searching his. She doesn’t even seem to have noticed my presence yet. Clearing my throat, I say quietly, “Hi. I’m Carlisle, Edward’s boyfriend. Rose, do you think you can make it to the hospital if we carry you to the car?” Edward had told me on the way here that her car and bag are ready and waiting, so we can take her there if needed. Rose nods and manages a clipped, “Yes. Nice to meet you. Oh my God! Ed, help me. Please.”

Edward and I share a quick look, then with a nod, we ease Rosalie off the bed and help her into the backseat of her car. Handing me the keys, Edward climbs into the back with her, squeezing himself in between the seats to hold her hand and help her stay focused. As I pull out, I can hear him call ahead to the hospital to let them know we’re coming. Thankfully, the hospital is only a few blocks away and traffic is mercifully light despite the hour, so I’m pulling up to the emergency room entrance in no time. They’re already waiting with a wheelchair and as soon as Edward’s out of the car, the orderly helps get Rosalie out and into the chair. The nurse is taking information and before I’m even really aware of what’s going on, Rose and Edward are inside, and I’m left parking the car before following suit.

By the time I get inside, I have to wait to be able to ask the nurse where they’ve gone, but they can’t tell me since I’m not family, so I take a seat within sight of the desk and wait. My knee is bouncing as I try to stay calm, wishing I could do something to help Rosalie or Edward, and wondering how they’re doing. As fast as the day has gone, time now seems to crawl by as I watch the waiting room fill up with patients, nurses and doctors walking rapidly to get where they’re going. My skin begins to itch with the need to do something, but there’s nothing for me to do but wait.

And wait.

Finally, after what feels like hours, Edward reappears with a beaming smile. He looks utterly exhausted, but the elation he feels is apparent as he walks up to me and grabs me in a hug so tight, it hurts. I can’t find it in me to complain, however, when I hear him whisper, “They’re alright. Rose and the babies, they’re all okay. She had a boy and a girl. They’re alright.” He repeats it again and again, his voice filled with awe and relief. After a couple of minutes, he pulls back and says, “Thank you. I’m sorry you got stuck waiting here, but thank you for being there. I don’t even know-” He shakes his head, unable to finish his sentence. I don’t need for him to say it, though, because I understand how he feels.

“Congratulations. I’m glad they’re okay, and I’m glad I was here. I love you,” I murmur, kissing him gently. He beams at me. “Love you, too. God, so much. Come, Emmett just got here as I went to get you.” Taking my hand, he leads me to the elevator and up to the maternity ward. When we get to Rosalie’s room, we pause to look inside, both of us smiling as we see Emmett sitting on the edge of her bed, holding her hand and whispering to her. Rose looks wrecked but happy, her focus intent on her husband. The scene looks intimate and blissful, and I find myself pulling Edward close to me, wrapping my arms around him as I kiss his temple.

After a minute, Edward quietly knocks on the door and says, “Hey, is it okay if we come in?” Emmett turns to us and Rose nods. “Sure,” Emmett gets up, his smile a mile wide as he shakes my hand and says, “Thanks. I hear you drove them up here. Appreciate it, man.” “My pleasure. I’m glad I could help. How are you doing, Rosalie?” I ask, shifting slightly so I can look past Emmett at Rose, who’s struggling to get comfortable. “I’m alright, I guess. As much as I can be, anyway. Sorry that we couldn’t meet under better circumstances,” she adds with a tired smile. Stepping up to the bed, I pat her hand. “Are you kidding? I think that you giving life is a pretty great thing, though I get what you’re saying,” I add with a wink, causing her to laugh quietly and wince.

Edward walks up behind me and puts his arm around my waist. We talk for a while, though Rose drifts in and out as we do, until finally Edward says in a whisper, “Em, I think we’re gonna leave. She needs her sleep. I want to show him the babies before we head out, though, is that okay?” Emmett nods, then leans in to plant a gentle kiss on Rosalie’s hair, murmuring something to her. She doesn’t respond, though, apparently fully asleep now.

Emmett motions for us to go outside and we wait for him to close the door. “Thanks again, really. I wish I could’ve been here, but I’m glad you were, at least.” Emmett smiles, then adds, “They’re over here.” We follow him over to a large glass window, showing a room filled with cribs. To the left, there are two close together, one with a pink swaddled baby, fast asleep, and the other in blue swaddles, who’s awake but quiet. I can’t read the signs on the cribs, but before I can ask, Emmett says, “Evan Alan McCarty and Evelyn Alyn McCarty,” his voice filled with awe. Edward leans into me, resting his head on my shoulder as he stares at the babies. From the corner of my eye, I can just see a smile play on his lips. Putting an arm around his waist, I turn to kiss the top of his head. We stand there for several minutes, all of us lost in our own thoughts as we stare at these miracles of life. I can’t even begin to put my feelings into words, but I know I’ve never in my life felt this content or happy as I am right here, right now.

Emmett claps us both on the shoulder and says quietly, “I’m gonna go back to Rosie. Thanks again for everything. Both of you.” We’ve just started toward the elevator when I remember that I still have Rosalie’s car keys. Fishing them out of my pocket, I turn to Emmett and call out to him. “Hey, Emmett, what do you want me to do with the car?” Emmett walks over and it’s obvious he’s considering the options. Finally, he shrugs and says, “Why don’t you drive it home. Ed can give me the keys next time I see him.”

That decided, we drive back to Emmett’s house, then walk hand-in-hand the rest of the way home. Neither of us is very talkative, since we’re both exhausted and more than a little overwhelmed at how the day turned out. I don’t pay any attention what floor Edward picks, I simply follow him, my feet moving automatically. Brutus’s exuberant welcome as we step through the door snaps me out of it, and I realize we’re in Edward’s apartment. Edward sighs heavily, looking apologetic. “Sorry, babe. I need to take him for a walk. You can stay here, if you like. I won’t be long.” Though I’m beyond tired, I shake my head and take his hand. “I’ll come with you. I don’t mind.”

We end up taking Brutus for a short walk in the park before heading back. By the time we’re in Edward’s apartment again, I’m all but dragging my feet and immensely grateful that tomorrow is Saturday. I still have to go to work, but at least I start a little later than during weekdays. Edward and I undress in silence, crawling into bed and only barely stay awake long enough to make sure the alarm is on before kissing each other goodnight and passing out.

The next morning we wake by the alarm and are able to have a much more relaxed start to our day. Though part of me can’t help but hope that Edward will want to hang around the shop again, I can’t bring myself to object when he says he’s going to stop by the hospital to see Rose and the babies, and see if there’s anything he can do for them.

Work is quiet, which suits me fine as thoughts of the previous night keep running through my head. I’m itching to do something for Rose and Emmett as well, but I’m unsure what. Staring out into my store, I wonder what I could do. I don’t know them, really, but still. Then it hits me and I almost kick myself for not thinking of it sooner. Grinning, I roam through several frames, trying to find the right one as I cast my thoughts back to try to remember their living room. It’s hard, since everything went so fast the night before, but eventually I settle on a cherry-wood frame with three panes.

Taking it to the back, I grab my calligraphy and stamp set before taking a seat behind my desk and setting to work. With the utmost care, I write the date of birth, and after stamping one blue and one pink set of footprints, I write their names. Once it’s dry, I carefully place it in the middle of the frame, leaving the outer two for their pictures. I’ve offset the names so the blue feet are tilted to the left and the pink to the right, to indicate which is which. Satisfied, I wrap up the frame and write a simple card of congratulations to go with it, leaving room for Edward to add his name, certain that he will appreciate the gift. I can’t help but smile at the thought of giving this gift with Edward, and I can’t wait to share this with him.

By the time my day comes to a close, I am eager to return home, my treasure in hand. I haven’t heard from Edward all day, so rather than going by his place, I head home, wanting to change clothes before calling him. When I step out on my floor, however, there’s a note waiting for me on my doorknob, asking me to meet him at his place. Deciding to go ahead and change anyway, I hurry through the motions and am knocking on his door within five minutes of coming home. I grin at Brutus’s excited bark and hold the frame I’ve brought with me up and out of his reach so he can’t accidentally damage it if he jumps me.

Sure enough, the second Edward has the door open Brutus tries to tackle me, earning a sharp reprimand from his master and a laugh from me. “What’s that?” Edward asks, eyeing the package with interest as he straightens up and kisses me. “This,” I say as I hand it to him,” is a gift for Rose and Emmett. From both of us, if you’re okay with that?” Now that I’ve handed him the frame, I suddenly feel a lot less certain that I’ve done the right thing.

Edward raises his eyebrows, then walks over to the dining room table to carefully undo the wrapping. His sharp intake of breath as he uncovers the frame and sees the writing has me holding my breath in anticipation. When he looks up at me his eyes shine as brightly as his smile. “Mind? Are you kidding? This is awesome, baby. They’ll love it. Thank you!” I just have time to feel a smile of my own start when Edward claims my lips in a bruising kiss. “You are amazing,” he says, pecking my lips between each word.

Blushing, I bite the corner of my lip, happy beyond reason at his reaction. Edward carefully wraps the frame back up as he says, “I was hoping we could stop by the hospital after dinner, we could give it to them then?” “Sounds like a plan. Oh, here,” I say, handing him the card, too. “I thought you might want to sign your name yourself. Didn’t want to be too presumptuous,” I admit quietly. Edward rolls his eyes good naturedly, then walks over to the side table for a pen and scribbles his name before handing the card back to me with an amused look. “It wouldn’t have been, Carlisle. You have no idea how much this means to me, believe me.”

After putting the frame and card where Brutus can’t get to them, we sit down to eat while Edward fills me in on what he’s been doing. He frowns as he pushes his spaghetti around on his plate. “They hadn’t expected the babies to come yet, obviously. Aunt Helen was going to make sure their freezer and pantry were stocked, but didn’t quite get as far as she’d planned, so I said I’d help. I’ve been here cooking like crazy for most of the day.” He gives me a wry smile as he adds, “We’re in for a few trips back and forth to Alice’s car, I’m afraid. She’s letting me use it so we can ferry the food over.”

My eyes widen slightly. “Well that explains all the wonderful smells around the place. That’s nice of you to do, sweetheart. And of Alice to let you use her car for that.” Edward snorts. “Nice, nothing. I had to bribe her with lasagna and breadsticks, the little brat.” I can tell by the tone of his voice that he’s mostly kidding, so I laugh. “Well, it’s sweet of you to put the effort in, babe. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.” Edward chuckles. “Oh, they will. Emmett, for sure, because unlike me, he can’t cook for shit.”

That has me laughing hard enough that it makes Brutus whine, and after a few false starts, I manage, “Sorry, boy, didn’t mean to tease. You can’t come here yet.” Clearing my throat, I turn my attention back to Edward. “So how are we getting the food there, then? Since you said we would be going to visit them at the hospital.” Edward shrugs. “I’ve got Rose’s keys still, and Emmett knows, so we’re cool.” “Alright then. Let’s hurry up, so we can get over there and be done. I for one can’t wait to see those babies up close.” Edward grins at that, nodding.

We make quick work of the rest of our meal, as well as the dishes. Before long we’ve loaded all the food and the frame into Alice’s car and are on our way to Rose and Emmett’s house where we quickly unload all the food. After Edward’s satisfied that everything is where it should be, he writes a quick note to Emmett, reminding him about cook times and temperatures. That done, we lock the house up and make our way to the hospital.

When we arrive at Rose’s room, it’s clear we’re not the only visitors. There are several bags and discarded jackets sitting along the windowsill, and two of the chairs are occupied, while Emmett is leaning against the wall next to Rose’s bed. He has a tiny blue bundle in his arms and a huge smile on his face as he coos at his son. Rose smiles up at him as I hear Emmett say quietly, “He’s got your nose, baby.”

Edward knocks on the door. “Hi, are we okay to come in?” The others all turn to look at us even as Rose says, “Sure, come on in. They’ve only just eaten, so you’re right on time.” As we get closer, I notice that Edward’s mom is sitting in the chair closest to Rose, and that she’s holding Evelyn. I smile hesitantly at her even as Edward leans down to kiss her cheek. I can just hear his, “Hey, Mom,” and a whispered, “Hi there, Evelyn.”

Elizabeth smiles warmly at her son, murmuring something too low for me to hear, then turns to look at me and says, “Carlisle, good to see you again.” Her smile is still there, though I note it isn’t quite as bright as the one she gave her son. Or maybe I’m overreacting. Either way, I can’t help but fidget a little as I greet her. Edward straightens, putting his arm around my waist as he says, “Rose, Em, we got you something. Actually, it was Carlisle’s idea, but… we hope you like it.”

Rose’s eyes widen a little at Edward’s words. Stepping forward, I gently lay the gift on her lap before handing her the card. Emmett asks if I want to hold Evan so he can help Rose unwrap the frame. It’s been so long since I’ve held a baby that I feel a little awkward as he hands him to me, but once he’s in my arms I just melt. I’m so focused on the little bundle in my arms that I almost forget why I’m holding him until Rose’s sniffle catches my attention. I can feel Edward pressed against me, his chin on my shoulder as he watches.

Rose stares up at us with shimmering eyes, her hand reaching out to us. “You guys! Thank you. You really didn’t have to… it’s beautiful. Thank you so much.” Edward reaches around me to take Rose’s hand, squeezing it. “You’re welcome. We’re glad you like it.” Emmett suddenly takes Evan out of my arms, handing him to the other person in the room – someone I haven’t met yet. Startled I wonder what I did wrong, but I’m not left guessing for his motives for long when Emmett enveloppes both Edward and I in a bear hug, his voice rough with emotion as he thanks us both.

Edward laughs quietly, while I just awkwardly pat Emmett’s back, more than a little stunned by his display but nonetheless pleased by it, too. Emmett clears his throat as he releases his hold on us, mumbling, “Sorry.” Shaking my head, I chuckle. “Quite alright.” Edward kisses my cheek, grinning like a fool as Elizabeth asks if I want to hold Evelyn. Nodding, I hold my arms out to accept the baby from her, but Elizabeth gets to her feet smoothly, directing me to take her place before handing over the pink bundle.

Settling on the floor next to me, Edward brushes Evelyn’s cheek. His eyes hold as much awe as I’m sure mine do, and his smile is so tender, it makes something inside me well up with love. For a moment, my whole focus is narrowed down to Edward and Evelyn, and I let the voices of the others wash over me. The rightness of being here is almost overwhelming, and I wonder how I ever could have thought I could live my life without Edward. The pace at which our relationship has grown seems inconsequential right now, my worries about our age difference utterly absurd. When Edward looks up at me, I can read in his eyes that he feels the same, too.

“Oh, hey,” says yet another new arrival, bursting the bubble we’re in. When I look up, I blink and have to look back at the woman holding Evan to make sure she’s still there. Then I realize that these must be Emmett’s twin sisters. Emmett grins as he greets his sister, then turns to me. “Oh, Carlisle, I’m sorry. These are Anne,” he indicates the new arrival, “and Beth,” tilting his chin toward the sister holding Evan. Beth rolls her eyes, grinning herself as he says, “Nice of you to finally make introductions, brother.” Emmett sticks his tongue out at her, muttering, “Oh, shut it and give me my son.”

Beth stands up to hand Evan over, then holds her hand out to me in greeting. “Nice to meet you.” Shaking her hand awkwardly, I smile. “And you.” Beth’s eyes cut to Edward as she mouths, “Nice!” Both Edward and I blush. The others start talking quietly then, catching up on the goings on in the family. I’m grateful, as it allows me to compose myself as well as learn a little more about Edward’s family. After a while, a soft snore reaches my ears, and I look down to find Evelyn fast asleep. She looks so peaceful; it makes me smile.

Edward and I switch places so I can go to the restroom, but I’ve barely made it down the hall when I hear someone call my name. Turning around, I’m surprised to find Elizabeth walking toward me. When she reaches me she takes a breath as if to steel herself. I feel a flash of worry and gulp, wishing I could be anywhere but here right now. Then she smiles as she takes my hand in hers. I stare, baffled. “Carlisle, I’m afraid I owe you an apology,” she says quietly. “Okay?” I say hesitantly as I try to wrap my head around her statement, but even as I wonder what she wants, she adds, “We got off on the wrong foot, and I’m afraid that is completely my fault. I’m sorry.”

I want to reply, but when I open my mouth to do so, nothing comes out. My mind is an utter blank. Elizabeth smiles softly. “I made some assumptions I had no business making, but after talking with Edward, and Emmett and Rosalie… and watching you today…” She pauses, clearing her throat and I’m surprised to see a blush tinting her cheeks. “I just wanted to apologize and… well… welcome you to the family, I guess. Knowing my son as I do, I have no doubt as to his feelings toward you, so…”

Her eyes are as warm as the smile on her lips as she watches me. It takes a few seconds for the meaning of her words to filter through, but when they do, I feel the knot in my stomach ease, and I take a deep breath. “Thank you,” I manage in a hoarse voice. “That means a lot… to Edward, too, I’m sure.” Elizabeth nods, squeezing my hand even as she pulls me into a hug which I awkwardly return. “Thank you,” I murmur again. She pats my back, releasing me and gestures for me to go on with what I’d come out here to do.

When I look toward Rose’s room, I see Edward standing in the doorway, still holding Evelyn and positively beaming at us. He nods, which Elizabeth and I both return. I watch as she makes her way over to her son and they hug, mindful of the baby in his arms. I can see him whisper to his mother, see the joy in his face as he glances at me again.

Once I return from the restroom, Edward steps up to me, hugging me tight. Wrapping my arms around him, I can’t help but smile as we sway back and forth, even if there’s a small voice still nagging at me. It sounds like Esme, and I wish with all my heart that I am that she would have a turn of heart like Elizabeth had. I sigh, closing my eyes. Edward presses his lips to my neck, then looks up at me, cupping my cheek as his eyes search mine. After a minute, he says quietly, “Just give her time, babe.” As usual, Edward reads me perfectly. I smile sadly, wondering how he does that. Whether I’ll ever figure that out, I don’t know, but the fact that he does is something I hope I’ll always cherish.

We hang around for another half hour, but when another couple enters the room we decide to head home in order not to completely overwhelm the new mother. Once home, and after having taken Brutus for a nice, long walk, we go to bed and make love.